Tuition aside, what benefits and drawbacks exist by going to school in-state vs. out-of-state?

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Our counselors answered:

Tuition aside, what benefits and drawbacks exist by going to school in-state vs. out-of-state?

Susan Marrs
Director of College Counseling Seven Hills School

Pros and cons of attending college in state and close to home...

Pluses: You'll probably know more people right away than if you went far away; you can get home fast if there's an emergency (or a party); and if you end up living and working in the same state, you'll graduate with lots of contacts. Minuses: You may never stretch yourself socially if you rely primarily on your high school friendships; you may, by default rather than by choice, limit your professional options to employers that recruit locally; you may regret trading familiarity for adventure.

Craig Meister
President Tactical College Consulting

In a bad economy, public in-state schools grow in popularity...

Increasingly, public in-state colleges seem to have an edge with applicants because the nasty economy has put downward pressure on what students and parents are willing to shell out for tuition and travel costs. Other benefits of staying close to home include the ease of getting home in an emergency and the likelihood that nearby colleges will have relatively high placement rates with local employers. The latter is attractive to students who want to live and work close to home after graduating. In a difficult economy, the risks associated with going to college far away seem to add up fast.

Jolyn Brand
Owner & CEO Brand College Consulting

Closer is Safer, but Further is Independence...

The benefits to attending an in-state school are the reduced costs, not only in tuition but in trips home, and storage or moving your things. Another benefit is being close to home, which will be convenient for weekend trips home, if you get sick, or if there is an emergency. The benefits to going out of state are more independence and being able to meet more diverse people, and not just rely on the same kids you went to elementary school with. Some disadvantages with a school far away include a tougher transition to college life, being homesick, being lonely while you adjust and make new friends.

Janet Rosier
President Janet Rosier's Educational Resources

Wherever You Decide to Attend, Become Involved...

Whether you attend college in your home state or away is less important than what you do when you are there. If you stay fairly close to home, the good news is that it is easy to get home. That can also be the bad news. Students who come home many weekends (some every weekend!) do not transition well into college. They are still tied to friends and events at home and are not getting involved at college. Studies show that students who engage in activities on campus--especially early on-- report being happier and are more likely to graduate.

Jeannie Borin
Founder & President College Connections

The Truth About In-State Colleges...

It’s hard to ignore the financial benefits of attending a state university. Other advantages include the numerous activities outside class such as clubs and social events as well as increased academic options. Generally in state colleges have a more diverse student body than smaller privates. Some private colleges don’t have the multitude of resources available at larger publics. Large classes can be a drawback for some but many prefer it. Some state budgets have mandated increased tuition, faculty and course cutbacks, which make many private colleges more attractive.

Bill Pruden
Head of Upper School, College Counselor Ravenscroft School

Where You Learn Impacts What You Learn...

A huge part of a student’s college education is a product of the people with whom one goes to school. Whether it comes from the impact they have on class discussion or is simply a result of the countless informal interactions that take place on the quad, in the dorm, or in the dining room, one’s peers are often the most influential teachers a student will have. Going to school out of state broadens the field from which those “teachers” come, thus expanding the perspectives and experiences to which a student is exposed, thus potentially enriching the educational experience for all.

Marilyn Emerson
President Emerson Educational Consulting

Adventure Awaits You Out-of-State...

Response: Attending college away from home can be exciting. There won't be many people who know you, so you can start with a clean slate. You will have a new place to explore, new people to meet and an opportunity to experience different cultures. When you graduate you will be much more interesting than those who stayed within their comfort zone. J.S. Lehman, former President of Cornell, said it well, "May you frequently travel beyond the places that are comfortable and familiar, the better to appreciate the miraculous diversity of life."

Kathryn Favaro
College admissions consultant California College Prep

Find the best fit. Consider a location where you will be successful...

The best college experience comes from finding your best fit school. There are many factors to consider and location is definitely one of them. Some students feel the need to leave their state and explore a new part of the country while others feel more comfortable staying closer to home. An out of state experience can expose you to new people, geography, and don't forget - weather. Remember to think about additional criteria like the learning style, size, majors, culture, and research/internship opportunities at each school you are considering. Try to find schools offering all your college "must haves" and stay open minded to location.

Alison Almasian
Director of Admissions St. Lawrence University

Either way, going to college is an adventure...

College is a great adventure, whether you stay close or venture far from home. College life is, itself, a big change. You’re expected to be much more independent and responsible for your own success. Attending a closer-to-home college could help ease the transition, since you won’t be learning to cope with a completely new environment. (What’s that white stuff falling from the sky—you mean I can’t wear flip-flops all year round?) However, it’s that opportunity to experience a whole new environment that makes going out-of-state so exciting. Since many students will return to their home areas after college to work, going out-of-state can open up so many new horizons--a chance to experience new weather patterns, sports/activities, and even different cultures (yes, there are cultural differences in various states and regions of the country!) Whatever you decide, enjoy the adventure!

Nicole Oringer
Partner Ivy Educational Services

Managing costs and comfort levels to find the right fit...

The “in-state vs. out-of state” question is usually seen as “affordability vs. adventure.” In the end, it’s less about proximity to home and more about what feels right. If students are ready for the college experience and comfortable enough to get involved academically and engage in campus life, they will love whatever college they choose. Also, comfort levels can change! A local student might love the first couple of semesters of being close, but then want to spread his wings, and an out-of-state student might feel very challenged in the beginning, but make a home out of new location.